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Dealership Family Values

General sales manager offers three tips for treating employees like family — without all the drama.

In our business, employees are like family. We enjoy victories and suffer defeats together. We celebrate new additions and grieve when loved ones are lost. We eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together, and we talk about our personal lives, our hopes, our dreams. Even when we’re not at work, social media and text messages ensure we are always connected.

Many dealers take tremendous pride in the fact that they have a high percentage of long-term employees. In those stores, the family dynamic is even more apparent. But as much as the dealership is like a second home, it is still a business. People get hired and then quit or get fired or laid off, sometimes without warning.

With all that in mind, let’s discuss some ways to stay close — but not too close — to our dealership families.

1. Watch the Level of Personal Talk.

We all have our kid issues, spouse issues and housing issues, and they are bound to reveal themselves at work. It’s only natural to want to lend a sympathetic ear and share advice. But as writer and radio personality Earl Nightingale once said, “You are what you think about.” The more focus you put on discussing personal problems, the less likely you are to have a successful, productive day.

This is not to say that you should cut people off mid-sentence. The next time an employee unloads on you, be sympathetic, find a positive note, and walk away. You want to be known as a good listener, but you’re not a therapist, and you cannot afford to spend your work hours trying to solve other people’s problems.

2. Build a Team, Not a Family.

Getting people together outside the store for fun and food is a great way to build comradery. Whether it’s an after-work drink, a baseball game or a company picnic, treat your staff to a good time, and remember: the more the merrier. The bigger the group, the fewer chances for deep, personal conversations. Whenever possible, ask everyone to bring their real families. 

3. Make Social Media and Texting a Safe Zone.

Most of us have a large Facebook group, and most dealers encourage activity that generates “likes” for the company pages. But employees must be told, in no uncertain terms, that they must post responsibly to protect the dealership’s reputation, even when they’re off the clock.

We all know how much easier it is to send a text message than it is to make a phone call. If your employees want to text each other at all hours, there isn’t much you can do about it. But you don’t have to participate. The next time you get a drunk text or any other after-hours message, just ignore it.

A dealership family is not unlike any other family. There are ups and downs and even the occasional drama. It is OK to laugh, joke, cry and even vent. Just remember that our income is based solely on productivity and profitability. So enjoy those relationships but keep them professional and positive. Got a problem? Go sell something.

Jason Heard is the general manager at Lee's Summit (Mo.) Honda. He is a 20-year industry veteran with extensive sales and sales management experience. 

Source: http://www.autodealermonthly.com/channel/the-showroom/article/story/2016/09/dealership-family-values.aspx?utm_campaign=topnews-20161001&utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Enewsletter 

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http://www.BradleyOnDemand.com 856-546-2440 

http://www.DealerSynergy.com 

The "Internet Sale" is REALLY A "Phone Sale"

If you are one of those Internet sales managers or business development center agents who takes pride in their email templates and spends a ton of time reading and writing amazing emails, you are not going to like this article.

Emails suck! That’s right, I said it. Emails suck. They have the lowest percentage of engagement and conversion of virtually any form of communication. And yet untrained Internet sales representatives spend the majority of their time playing the email game and wondering why they are not crushing it online.

Let me break down the reality for you:

The average email open rate is 2% to 4%
Only 7% of all communication is text (emails, chat or text messaging)
Nine out of 10 people on the Internet prefer to communicate via the phone
Tone and inflection is 38% of communication
Visual perception and body language is 55% of communication
For the readers out there who might not know me, I want you to know that, before I became a consultant, I ran an Internet department that sold more than 110 units per month online — and that was way back in 2001–’04, when it was all brand-new. I have since trained more than 13,000 automotive sales professionals in more than 900 dealerships, and I have been able to identify what actually works, what doesn’t work, what sometimes works and what works all the time. And one thing I know never works is relying on email to sell cars. The Internet purchase request may start via email, but it almost always escalates to the phone.

The Philosophy of Communication

There are clear rules of engagement for communicating with prospective car buyers. Email sells the phone call, the phone call sells the appointment and the appointment builds the relationship. That relationship is what leads to the product presentation, the demo drive and, ultimately, the sale.

I am not suggesting you shut down your email server. I am merely asking you to prioritize your follow-up. Focus your attention where you are going to have the maximum effect. As Stephen Covey of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” fame says, “Put first things first.”

I suggest you create an amazing email template library. If you do not have one and feel you are not skilled enough to create one, find a consultant who is and hire them. Here is a snapshot of three types of emails you should create and the strategy you need to use each one effectively:

1. Traditional email: Create an email for every one of the first 31 days of contact. Make sure each one articulates what is different and what makes your dealership a better choice than your competition — both local and national. Remember, price only becomes relevant when there is an absence of value, so the goal here is to create and build your dealership’s value proposition.

2. Video email: Video has a click rate that is 53 times higher than standard email messages. People prefer to watch videos to get the information they need in a single viewing. This is so much more effective and compelling than emailing back and forth with every customer. Videos allow you to ensure your message is clear and concise and conveys exactly what you want car buyers to know. It also cuts down on the confusion and misunderstandings that occur when someone misreads an email.

3. Client reviews and testimonials: One way to add value to your emails is to include current and past customer reviews. Even better are video testimonials that allow your potential buyers to hear directly from those who have already purchased on why your dealership is the best. You should also look to incorporate Google and Yelp reviews of both your dealership and salespeople to help build your reputation as the kind of person and place buyers want to do business with.

Create a powerful email library that incorporates all of these techniques and integrate it within your overall CRM strategy, then forget about it. That’s right: set it, forget it and let the CRM do what it is designed to do: deploy an automated email action plan for fresh leads, dead leads, sold leads, engaged leads — everything! With your email template library and automated action plan in place, you can now focus on dialing the phone. That is where the money is.

Yes, It Really Works

Calling Internet prospects escalates the level of communication, reduces the confusion and miscommunication inherent to email and helps establish a personal relationship.
Calling Internet prospects escalates the level of communication, reduces the confusion and miscommunication inherent to email and helps establish a personal relationship.
I know I am going to get some pushback on this article. I can hear it now: “But, Sean, what if someone says, ‘Email only, do not call me’?” I don’t care. I am still picking up the phone and calling them. “What if they say, ‘Just email me the bottom-line price’?” I don’t care. I am still calling. “What if they say they want the information on a specific vehicle in stock and provide the stock number?” I don’t care. I am picking up the phone and calling them, period.

This might sound archaic, but it really isn’t. The reality is that the average prospect is going to find and visit 10 dealership websites before they ever set foot in a store. I want to escalate the level of communication as quickly as possible so I can sell an appointment. The average (qualified) prospect visits less than two dealerships in person before they purchase a vehicle. The game is won or lost on the phone.

When dealers hire me to consult for them and I evaluate their current process deficiencies, one of the most common time-wasters is Internet managers and reps spending excess time reading each individual lead, looking at what the prospect is asking for and then writing a custom response. Or worse, actually creating a custom video response way too soon. The reason this is actually counterproductive is that Internet teams are spending too much time reading and creating emails versus actually connecting with prospects. Remember, the email open rate is only 4% at best! It truly does not make sense to look at each individual Internet purchase request, read it, respond to it and then decide whether or not to make a phone call. This just wastes time.

You want to make sure your Internet or BDC team is trained on phone sales. The average connection on phone calls is 11% to 14%. If you condition your sales reps to make at least 120 outbound calls per day, in an eight-hour day, on average, they will connect with up to 17 potential buyers — every day.

Keep in mind, these are the Internet sales coordinators or BDC reps. They are not doing product presentations, demo drives or deliveries. Their whole objective is to establish connections with prospects. Why waste time manually reading and responding to every email possible when it will only result in connecting with an average of a maximum of five potential buyers out of that same pool of 120 prospects?

Use email to set up the phone call and get customers engaged at a high level. That is the true path to Internet sales success. If you disagree, let me know — or better yet, try it and see the results for yourself.

Sean V. Bradley CSP is CEO of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized digital marketing expert and author of “Win the Game of Googleopoly,” a No. 1 Amazon bestseller.

SOURCE - http://www.autodealermonthly.com/channel/internet-department/article/story/2015/09/internet-leads-are-phone-leads.aspx 

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http://www.internetsales20group.com 

Gaining the Competitive Edge As A Member Of A 20 Group

 

Before I go into the “why”, let’s discuss the “what”. Specifically, what is a 20 group? A “20 Group” is a group of dealers in noncompeting markets that get together in exotic locations nationally and internationally, on a quarterly basis, to “synergize”. Although once required that a group consist of approximately 20 dealers (hence the name “20 Group”), this does not always hold true today. Some “20 groups” consist of 30 dealers while others may only consist of 15. Ultimately, the number of dealers in the group is not as relevant as the criteria by which the group itself is structured.

 

Today 20 Groups are structured a little differently, but it’s important to understand their origin in order to appreciate their evolution. Originally, the 20 group audience was composed of Dealer Principals, General Managers and/or senior executives of the dealership. It also originally focused on franchise dealerships. For example, in a “Toyota” 20 Group, you would find 20 different Toyota dealerships from 20 different markets, usually from all over the country. But even though the franchise was exactly the same, diversity still existed within the “Toyota” 20 group itself. For example, you could have dealerships that were small, large, part of a dealer group, part of a corporation, in a rural area, in the city, single point or part of a multi franchise point; all with different strengths, weaknesses, passions and fears. These dealers were intentionally diverse. This was imperative to the success of the 20 group to ensure impartial feedback.

 

Some of the most common areas of comparison, coverage and discussion in a traditional 20 group were:

 

  • Financial Composite
    • Expenses
    • Gross
    • Net
    • ROI
    • S.W.O.T.

 

 

  • Break Down of Different Departments
    • New Car Sales
    • Used Car Sales
    • Advertising / Marketing
    • Vendors / Suppliers
    • CSI / Customer Service
    • Human Resources
    • Legal
    • OEM Situations
    • Accounting / Floor Plan

 

  • And More…

 

How was the data collected? Each dealer within the 20 Group would be responsible for filling out their “input sheets”, which would become part of the overall 20 group composite. The input sheets worked as the core for analyzing all of the details, metrics and financials mentioned above. The sheer act of an individual dealership filling out an input sheet and tracking the proper metrics was worth the price of membership. Always remember, what isn’t being tracked, can’t be measured and what can’t be measured, cannot be improved upon. Surprisingly, a lot of dealerships today still simply “wing it”. The 20 group input sheets forces the dealers to hold themselves accountable because they have no choice but to fill them out. Lack of doing so could lead to the dealer being fined or worse yet, kicked out of the 20 group completely. After all, in order for the composite to hold its validity, the numbers must be true. Garbage in equates to garbage out.  Now with those completed input sheets, the 20 group, led by the 20 Group “Moderator”, was able to take the dealers individual metrics and consolidate all 20 dealerships’ input sheets into the group’s composite. Upon consolidation of the metrics, the moderator and each dealer within the 20 group, is able to see the entire 20 Group in one view and see which dealers are excelling and which individual category they are excelling in. On the opposite spectrum, the group could see which dealers are struggling, where and why.  From this data, the group could create “standards” or “benchmarks”. The group could see who is above, below or on track for 20 Group standards. But, this is only the beginning. Now that all of this “field intelligence” has been exposed, the real “SYNERGY” begins! Within each individual 20 Group session, dealers spend time discussing what is successful, what vendors are good and what strategies are successful. Also, what vendors are bad and what to do when bad things happen. In essence, the composite acts as a conversational starter. The true value is being part of a specific group of like minded people, at your level (or better) and the group works together for one sole goal…to evolve the entire group synergistically.

 

The core principals described above still remain constant and relevant for today’s 20 groups. People need cars today like they needed cars back then. That hasn’t changed. But what has changed, is the medium by which people are buying cars. With 97% of consumers going online prior to stepping foot into a dealership, the Internet Sales Department was created. As mentioned, 20 Groups originally were for franchised dealers and broken down by franchise. Soon after, Independent Dealership 20 Groups started popping up, followed by:

 

  • Used Car 20 Groups
  • Special Finance 20 Groups
  • GM 20 Groups
  • CFO 20 Groups
  • Internet Sales 20 Groups

 

20 Groups are essential for success in today’s market. Shakespeare said “Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are”.  If you are a Dealer Principal, GM, Internet Sales or BDC Director or any other senior executive within a dealership or dealer group, I suggest that you find a 20 Group that fits your dealership’s focus and needs.

 

Remember to find the RIGHT 20 Group for your unique needs and situation. You do not want to join a CFO 20 Group if you are looking for BDC information and clarity. Just like you wouldn’t hire a Service Writer Trainer to train your Internet Sales Department, you do not want to join a “traditional” 20 Group if you need information, strategy and clarity for Internet Sales. I also suggest that you are careful with 20 Groups that claim to do “everything”. Dr Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says “Put First Things First”. Meaning, you want to identify which area of the dealership you want to perfect first and concentrate solely on that department. Once you solidify the success of that specific department, you can move on to the next focus. For example, if you want to compare and synergize with other Porsche Dealerships, then join a Porsche 20 Group. But if you are looking for clarity on your Internet Sales Department, BDC or Digital Marketing initiative, then find a 20 group that specializes in that area. 

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 Do You Have Any Idea How to Make Money in Your Internet Department or BDC?

It is a simple enough question to ask. I am disappointed to have to say that most dealers do not know how to make money in their Internet department or BDC. Some dealers know how to sell cars from their departments, but they don’t know how to build value, which means they cannot make gross on these deals — so they give units away. Even if they are making a little bit of profit, it’s not because of some thought-out strategy, business model or action plan.

If you are reading this article, it means that the world didn’t end. The Mayan calendar had no effect on us. It also means that it is January 2013. 2013. I was selling 110 units online and making gross profits in 1999/2000. If you aren’t crushing it online, it is not because…

  • … of the election. It’s over.
  • … of the economy. People are buying vehicles, and we are having record months.
  • … you can’t make money with Internet prospects. Everyone is an “Internet Prospect” to some degree. More than 90 percent of people go online before they ever step foot in your dealership. If you can make gross on the showroom floor, you have no excuse not to hold gross with Internet or BDC customers.
  • … you don’t have the right manager. If you actually don’t have the right managers, find them.
  • … you don’t have the budget. Make changes with your antiquated marketing and advertising strategy.
  • … you don’t know how or where to even start. Join an Internet Sales 20 Group or hire a consultant — do not settle for mediocrity.

I have a friend who is the dealer principal of a domestic dealership in Chicago. He sells more than 200 units online. He has zero conventional advertising, and his average cost per sale is less than $100 (NADA says average cost per sale is $600 per car). That is how it should be. You should be able to sell more cars, more profitably, more often with Internet sales. I have built hundreds of Internet sales departments all over the country that are ridiculously profitable. It doesn't matter what franchise you have or what region of the country you are in. As long as you set up the business model for your Internet department or BDC the right way, you will make money and lots of it.

Here are some things that you need to make sure you are doing and tracking; if you’re not, you’re probably not making money in your department, or as much money as you should be.

  1. Make sure your average cost per sale with your Internet customers is $200 or less per car. If it’s higher, then that means you have a problem. You either have a problem with your digital marketing or advertising initiatives, or you have a problem with your people not converting the right way. It might be a training or process issue.

 

  1. Make sure that your gestation period is around 20 days, meaning that the average Internet prospect is a 45 to 90 opportunity, but most dealerships’ “average selling ratio” is only seven to 11 days.

Here is how you can check your status. Take your last month’s Internet sales (let’s say you sold 50 “Internet Deals”), then add three additional variables to track: the date the lead came in on, the date the lead closed and the “window period.” Now, go and track that for all 50 Internet sales from last month. Now, I want you to add all 50 Internet sales’ window period, then divide that number by 50. This will give you the “average window period” or “the gestation period.” You want to make sure you are not just selling to the “low hanging fruit.” Think about it: If the average buying cycle for Internet prospects is 45 to 90 days, then why is your average selling ratio to Internet prospects only seven to 11 days? Exactly!

 

  1. Make sure that you are attempting to contact prospects during prime time, which is between 6 and 8 p.m. I am shocked that dealers all over the country close at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. This is like making it to the Super Bowl and saying “no, thank you,” or making it to the Super Bowl halftime and saying “Thanks, we have had enough; we’ll try to see you next year!” This just doesn't make any sense. Think about it: What do you expect if you keep calling someone’s home number during work hours and they are at work? Exactly — you will not reach them. Now, does it matter if you are calling them for 30 straight days, numerous times a day? No, it won’t. Please remember, its not just about working hard. It is also about working smart.

I can seriously go on and on about this subject, but at the end of the day, it’s about making money. If you are not making money in your Internet department or BDC, or if you have no clue if you are really making money or not, e-mail me or call me ASAP.

Sean V. Bradley is the founder and CEO of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized training and consulting company in the automotive industry. He can be contacted at 888-3-SYNERGY, or by e-mail at sean@dealersynergy.com 

 http://www.autosucconline.com 

http://www.internetsales20group.com 

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Using Your Website As Your Content Hub

There has been a continued push for corporate and even local business blogging since marketers started discovering the potential benefits several years ago. We're often told that a blog is where you put your content that doesn't necessarily sell your product, and that an offsite-blog is the way to go. In today's content marketing world, both ideas are wrong.


Content

The one constant in internet marketing (and everything else in life) is change. Ideas that worked yesterday may not work today, but may work again tomorrow. It's the nature of the beast. Content marketing is a portion of internet marketing that has evolved rapidly over the years. In recent months, it has become arguably the most important component of an internet marketing strategy because both search engine marketing and social media marketing have become extremely dependent on the quality and style of content.

 

Blogging is something that every business should be doing. Many are. The challenge is that the concepts of the past are starting to become less valid. For example, many (including us) have said that blogging off of your domain either on a standalone URL or a subdomain of the primary was the best way to go. It allowed for more powerful link-building from a search perspective as well as giving an additional destination that wasn't tied into the primary website. In short, you put your business material on your website and your human material on your blog.

 

There were those who believed that bulking up the primary website by putting the blog as a subfolder of the primary domain was the way to go. Today, this is correct, but not for the reasons that most once argued. Blogging is no longer an appropriate SEO play, at least not from a "bulk" perspective. The concept that you should blog to get more pages for Google and Bing to index is antiquated. Yes, you should be putting high-quality content on your website, but blog content in the traditional format doesn't quite qualify. Putting content on your website on or off the blog and using it as individual content "hubs" is the (current) right way to do it.

 

That can change. It almost certainly will. Thankfully, it's not one of those strategies that must be unwound later when things change.

 

Defining the Blog Versus Site Content Strategies

Pohanka Hyundai i.oniqWhether you put the content on your normal website template or add it to a folder such as "/blog" is determined by a few different factors. There are several different strategies to consider; here are a handful:

  • Blog-Only - With this strategy, every piece of content that you publish that isn't directly associated with selling, business information, or other services goes on the blog. This is ideal if you don't publish very often.
  • Blog "Fun Stuff" and Put Other Content on Your Website - If you're busting out a good flow of content on a regular basis, you may choose this strategy. In it, you'll post "fun" content such as employee-of-the-month or customer-highlights on your blog, but relevant content of general interest on your primary website. The example to the right uses this strategy. In it, a Hyundai dealership posts a promotional video and interesting images of a concept vehicle. This is relevant but not directly associated with selling anything in particular.
  • No Blog - The old ideas of what blogging should and shouldn't be have been blurred over the years. Just about any type of content can go on a blog, but that same content can find a place on the primary website as well. Rather than a chronological posting style, this technique employees categorization in the menu. If you post a customer testimonial, it goes in that category. If you then post a video and images of a concept car, that goes in another category. It doesn't matter when they were posted; both get equal treatment in the menu bar.

 

Once you've established a style, it's time to get the content out there.

 

Content Size is Important But Not a Guiding Factor

Size MattersThe biggest mistake that marketers make with blogging is to believe that there are size constraints. Some want all of their posts to be 300-words, 500-words, or larger. Others like to keep it quick and easy. In reality, content is content and as long as it brings value to the visitor, it's worthy regardless of size.

 

That does not mean that you should post only a paragraph or two with every blog post. Just because it's not a make-or-break deciding factor doesn't mean that you should opt for the shortcut. Let your content size be determined by the potential value it brings. If you have a killer video that tells the whole story, a paragraph will probably be enough to make it a valid piece of content. The video is the star of the page in that scenario, so highlight it.

 

On the other hand, a resource list of tools that people can use to buy a car should be more than just a list. Describe the pros and cons of each tool. Give a little history about them. Describe why you believe one tool is better than another tool for certain needs.

 

Above all, remember that high-quality, unique content is what you should be striving for in each piece that you create. Bring something to the table. It's better to spend the time to make a page that people will want to share rather than posting unworthy bulk content over and over again.

 

Say what you need to say to bring value. No more. No less.

The Importance of the Hub

Hub and SpokeThe hub and spoke model has been used in business, government, and life in general for centuries. You have a centralized focus point from which other components can branch out and draw their strength.

 

You website content should be your content marketing hub. Some have chosen to turn other tools into their hub such as Facebook, niche communities, or even Tumblr. These strategies can be effective if done right. Doing it right is the challenge; they are extremely difficult to pull off, particularly in a retail setting. Complex strategies surrounding these different styles may prove to be the best way to go in the future, but today the benefits do not outweigh the drawbacks.

 

Using your website (whether through a blog or your primary website itself) is by far the easiest way to get both a search and social benefit from the content you create. Depending on resources, time, and the type of business you're running, creating your content hub can be approached from different directions but the end result is the same:

  • Make your website sharable

Your goal is to put content on your website that others will be willing to share. The various types of social media sites out there give you a tremendous pool of potential share venues. Facebook and Twitter are the most common, but one mustn't forget Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, and some of the other social sites out there.

 

A website that gets shared on social media gets benefits from three fronts. The first is obvious; any time your website is shared there's a chance that people will come and visit it. Depending on the power and reach of the profiles sharing it, you might get a nice spike in traffic. Even though it's the most obvious, it's also the least important. Visitors are nice, but those who come from social media shares are often the lowest value.

 

The second is becoming more important every day. Social signals are important to Google and Bing in their search rankings. They're becoming more important with every update. The more your website content is shared, the better the domain can rank.

  • Notice that I said, "the better the domain can rank."

 

It's not just the page itself that gets a benefit from your efforts. The domain gains credibility from the shares. If you're a car dealer, there's a good chance that people are not going to share an inventory details page of a vehicle they just found. They're not going to share your service appointment page. They're not going to share your oil change specials.

 

They will, however, share an interesting video and great images of a Hyundai concept car that they found on your website. By sharing this and similar pages, the search engines give it an authority bump.

 

The final front from which social media sharing can help is in sheer public perception. This is of light importance today but will grow in coming months as the social sites focus on domain shares. What's happening is this: widgets and apps are displaying "most shared" or "other pages from this domain" on the social sites themselves as well as offsite. The perception that content is sharable on a particular domain is going to become more valid in the near future. If your website has lots of good content that people have shared, they're more likely to explore your website. Again, this is minor today but is growing in importance.

 

Further Questions

QuestionsIn upcoming articles, we will cover:

  • How to make content that people will want to share
  • Finding content ideas by exploring
  • The proper content sharing structure to gain maximum exposure
  • How to build power accounts that can make "going viral" a possibility

 

In the meantime, keep reading everything you can about content marketing. It's not just the future. It's already here. Those who do content marketing properly are able to bypass traditional search engine optimization and social media marketing strategies because the content can be positioned to do all of the work for you.

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I've learned that coincidences don't really happen. There's always a reason. As I worked on my story today regarding content, I stopped to check Facebook and found exactly what I needed, courtesy of Jeff Glackin.

What you say in all of the media types - television, radio, print, social media, search marketing, billboards, etc. - has an opportunity to reach people. Often I'm asked questions about spends and ROI.

  • Will $10,000 spent on social media give the same or better yield than $10,000 spent on television?

  • Should I sink everything into online marketing or keep my offline marketing going strong?

  • Should I minimize my internet spend to just a website and classified ads and move the rest of my budget offline again?

The answer to all of these questions is the same. It depends on your message. That's it. The real question isn't whether or not a social media spend is better than a radio spend. The real question surrounds the way that you're putting your message out there. The words are often much more important than the medium.

This topic deserves much more research and examples than I can put together today, but it's important to get in the right frame of mind before exploring this topic more fully. To do this, I'll rely on a pretty good video on the topic. It's not a superb video but it evokes emotion and gets the basic point across.

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If you want to Sell MORE Cars…

Remember “Macro” Versus “Micro”

http://www.dealersynergy.com 

http://www.seanvbradley.com 

The goal is to sell more cars, more often and more profitable. The question is how can we do this? How can we stack the deck in our favor to ensure consistent success? The answer is to sell on a Macro level versus a micro level. First, let me explain the difference between the two. “Micro” selling is the way the typical sales consultant sells… one deal at a time, working off of “Ups” or referrals. “Macro” selling is when you are able to sell multiple units at a time or sell to multiple people at a time. For example “Fleet” sales is a form of macro selling, if you have a company that wants to buy several units in one deal. Sometimes this might be better than selling one unit at a time and sometimes it’s not. You might be thinking how can you even say something like that Sean…? Simple, with a lot of “Fleet” deals, there might be multiple units getting delivered however; they are discounted or heavily discounted because the client is buying multiple units in one transaction. So, is it better to sell one unit at a $2,200 (total) gross or sell four units in one fleet transaction for a TOTAL gross of $4,000? That is a good argument. On one hand you are making $4,000 on the other hand you are obviously NOT maximizing on gross. Before I give you my opinion, I want to share with you some statistics that might BLOW YOUR MIND!

  • You have a six percent closing ratio off of OEM leads (Leads from your manufacturer)
  • You have an eight percent closing ratio from 3rd party leads… but remember that over 70+ percent of the leads you get from 3rd parties originates from search engine optimization and or search engine marketing
  • You have a 14-16 percent closing ratio from leads you generate through SEO and SEM initiatives and or from leads from your dealership website.

*** (Here is the MIND BLOWING PART)

  • On average you have a 27 percent closing ratio from membership buying services like:
    • Costco
    • BJs
    • Sam’s Club
    • AAA
    • Etc…
    • As a matter of fact Costco had a 35 percent closing ratio!

People believe that if they are in a “Membership Buying Program” they will get a better deal. Numbers do not lie. Most dealerships and most sales people sell the hardest way “One at a time”. There is a better way… “Macro Selling”.

What you need to do is start a “Membership Buying Program” for your dealership. Here is a very serious example of how I did this myself when I was a manager at a dealership in New Jersey. I created a membership buying program through my dealership for law enforcement. I worked with a company called www.njcops.comit is both a FREE newspaper as well as a website. It goes to EVERY law enforcement division in the state of New Jersey. For example:

  • Every Police Department in NJ
  • Every Sheriff Department in NJ
  • Every Correctional Facility in NJ
  • Every State Trooper Barrack in NJ
  • Every Federal Agency located in NJ
  • EVEN Law Enforcement from outside NJ like NY, Maryland etc… views this publication.

I created a full page ad in the free publication as well as full digital marketing and branding on their website www.njcops.com . I came up with a complete value package proposition (An AWESOME, “Why Buy From Us”).  Basically the ad said “Show me your badge and we will…” But it wasn’t JUST for the officers… it was for EVERYONE at the police department including dispatch etc… And their spouses and their kids and… Do you get it? It was for EVERYONE. Sound familiar…?? There is ALWAYS a sale going on EVERYDAY at your dealership at EVERY dealership. Same concept, Perception is REALITY! We wanted EVERY single person reading NJ COPs Magazine and website to think and know that if they or ANYONE they knew wanted or needed ANYTHING automotive… Sales, Service, Parts, Finance, Special Finance, Body Shop, Aftermarket. There was NO OTHER PLACE OTHER than Sean V. Bradley and my Dealership!  

We literally signed up 22 different Police Departments in 1 week! And we sold a ton of cars! Let me explain further, when I say that we signed up 22 police departments in 1 week. That means that 22 different police departments as well as every one of their officers, employees, family and friends. Anytime anyone needed anything automotive they came to me and my dealership. We were our own Costco, BJs, Sam’s Club, AAA. We eventually moved beyond just law enforcement. We created a membership buying program for the military, teachers, firefighters and more.

What you need to do to start selling on a macro level versus a micro level is:

  • Understand the difference
  • Identify which “Macro” audience you want to target first. It might not be law enforcement or military. For example if you are highline and you are in Clear Lake Texas (Right next to NASA), you might want to target NASA…
  • Create a POWERFUL “Value Package Proposition” for your targeted Macro Audience.
  • Create a POWERFUL Marketing Campaign to fully engage your new audience
  • Get ready to sell a lot more cars!

If you have ANY questions about this article or if you would like me to help you identify what “Macro” opportunities you have in your area, please feel free to email or call me

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Fire Your Internet Sales Manager

http://www.dealersynergy.com 

I know I am going to get a lot of heat on this article, but it has to be said. I have worked with thousands of dealerships over the years and there have been numerous reasons given for mediocrity, and even failure. In the beginning of automotive Internet sales in the late 1990s, it was a novelty and an incremental business, but most dealerships were not able to truly harness it and make it a major profit center. However, over the years and through evolution of the automotive sales industry, and the country as a whole, there has been a lot of change — change in how people are researching, shopping, making decisions and ultimately buying a vehicle. There has even been change inside our industry by dealer principals, GMs and sales consultants. It seems that dealers are getting it. They understand that Internet sales, business development, digital marketing, and social media are all important.

 

What I am seeing now is a scary pattern emerging. A lot of dealerships are not maximizing on opportunities right in front of them because they do not have the right person in place. The Internet sales manager or BDC director that they have in place is the wrong person for the position, and they are hurting the dealership! Here are some problems I’ve seen at dealerships:

•  A computer geek in the position who is not an automotive professional. There is nothing wrong with being a geek. I have a problem if they have no idea how to sell a car, and don’t have the respect of their team and employees. They can’t motivate and drive the department to success.

•  An IT professional is the head of an Internet sales department or business development center. Just because they are good at fixing computers or understanding technology does not necessarily make them the best choice to run a million-dollar sales department. “Internet sales” is still sales.

•  Instead of terminating a sales consultant from the showroom floor, they are given a “second chance” running the Internet sales department. I don’t get this one at all. If someone can not be effective on the showroom floor, why would you have that person be the head of a department where 92 percent of Americans go before they ever step foot into your dealership?

•  A sales consultant is promoted from the showroom to running the Internet department. Please understand just because someone can sell a car does not mean they can run a department, let alone an Internet sales or business development department. Just because they can sell cars does not mean they are capable of being a manager or a leader. There are a lot of successful sales consultants who sell 20 or 30 cars per month, but don’t work well with others. They have no concept of interdependence.

•  There is no Internet sales manager/BDC director at all. That is just bad, and again, makes no sense whatsoever. When 92 percent of people are going online, there needs to be major attention to this area.

•  A dealership’s manager also manages the Internet department. I have seen it all, my friends. The dealer principal or general manager takes on the Internet department as an “additional” responsibility instead of having a dedicated manager, or they dump the responsibility of the Internet department onto the GSM or sales manager. This is not a viable solution.

 

Remember Basic Math

The average dealership in the United States delivers fewer than 100 units per month. But the average dealership has:

•  A GM or GSM

•  One to two sales managers (new car/used car), or “closers”

•  An F&I manager

•  10 Sales Consultants

 

If you want your Internet or business development department to deliver units, you are going to need the right Internet manager or BDC director.

 

Yes, you might need to fire your current Internet sales manager or BDC director. You might have been thinking about doing it for months now but weren’t sure. Let me make it easier for you.

Think of your current Internet sales manager or BDC director:

•  Are they a family member or in a relationship with anyone else in the dealership?

•  Do they have any automotive sales or management experience?

•  Do they have an aversion to the phone?

•  Do they have the ability to take a “TO” from their employees, sales consultants, appointment setters, etc?

•  Do they have the ability or desire to proactively “TO”?

•  Do they have the respect of their team (or the dealership for that matter)?

•  Can they, or do they, lead by example?

•  Do they train their team? Do they know how to train their team?

•  Do they have “one on ones” with their team?

•  Do they know how to project and forecast, and not merely guess and hope?

•  Are they rude and or mean to their team or their customers?

•  Do they have Standard Operating Procedures (S.O.P.s), or do they just “wing it”?

•  Can they desk a deal?

 

If you are reading this and you are a dealer or GM, do this calculation before you open the showroom tomorrow:

 

Look at your electronic leads, phone leads and walk-in leads. Say your electronic and phone leads are 70 percent or greater of all leads. Now look at your manager running your Internet or business development department. Are you comfortable with them in charge of 70 percent of your opportunities? If not, make the change today. If you can’t promote that person as your nest general sales manager, you have the wrong person in place.

 

If you would like a free personalized analysis of your Internet Sales Manager, contact me at the email below with “ISM” as the subject line.

 

Sean V. Bradley is the founder and CEO of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized training and consulting company in the automotive industry. He can be contacted at 866.648.7400, or by e-mail at

sbradley@autosuccessonline.com.

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http://www.dealersynergy.com 

What is the One "Thing" you can do today to dramatically change your life, your future, maximize your career, evolve...?

I am still in Indiana and have been up for over and hour now (Central time)... I have been working on a project for my client as well as getting caught up on over 100+ emails (That is just from yesterday LOL!). I am also finalizing my most recent article for AutoSuccess Magazine. And its NOT even 7:00am... Today I am going to be training an entire Internet Sales Department. What I do today will influence and enhance numerous people and their future. Then when I have finished, I will jump on a plane and head home to my wife and children. I am truly Blessed, I love what I do and am so grateful to my entire team at Dealer Synergy. Without them, there would be NO Dealer Synergy-What are you going to do today when you wake up...? What is the 1 thing that you can focus on today that will dramatically make a difference in your life, your career, for your company, for your family...?  Life is way too short, live today to its fullest... Be the absolute best you can be and settle for nothing less. Make sure you tell the people that you love that you love them. Try to make a difference in someone's life today... Start with yours :)

 

 

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http://www.dealersynergy.com

AutoSuccess September 2011

 

Great Question(s)!

 

I received a lot of great responses from my article a couple of months ago on getting Internet sales departments to effectively make phone calls. I had some people contact me with skepticism, but after we hung up from our call, they were complete believers and understood exactly what I was trying to articulate in my article. I also had people excited because finally someone broke it down with details on how things should work and why. But, I also had some communication with people that were a little confused about the numbers and the strategy. So, this article is going to break things down a little deeper.

Let me recap the highlights from that article:

  • Your Internet Sales Department is primarily a phone sales department.
  • You want to have a minimum of 120 phone calls per day per rep.
  • Do not let your team settle for mediocrity.
  • Implement the “power hour” exercise ASAP.
  • The average connection ratio (From phone call attempts to connections) is only 11 to 14 percent.
  • The key to success is understanding the logic: The more people you attempt to call, the more people you will connect with on the phone; the more connections, the more appointments; the more appointments, the more confirmations; the more confirmations, the more shows; the more show, the more sales.

Here, however, is the most powerful advice I can give:

Every dealership should really think about having professional appointment setters in their dealership, and I mean every dealership. We have clients all over this country and abroad, and it doesn’t matter if they are a small dealership, a large dealership, a dealer group, highline, import, domestic or even an independent dealer. Our most successful clients have professional appointment setters and some even have a full-blown team of appointment setters.

One recent example is Gary Mathews of Jackson in Jackson, Tennessee. This is a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Hyundai dealership that went from 35 units per month to 86 units per month and were on track for 102 for August.  In a down economy, they have broken dealership record after record. And they are proud to tell you why: their dedication to their Internet business. One of the main keys to their success is that they have a team of appointment setters, and all they do from open to close in shifts is pound the phones and e-mail (the CRM is programmed with an automated e-mail action plan).  Think about it: How much more successful would your dealership be if you had a team of trained appointment setters, and all they did at your dealership was make phone calls all day from open to close in shifts?

Remember that you only have a 11 to 14 percent connection ratio on the phones. So, if you only make 50 calls, you will only have five to seven connections. Plus, if you leave this up to your sales team to do, there will be no consistency. How could there be? They have to do follow-ups, product presentations and deliveries; they sometimes chase stips; they have days off, shifts off, personal time, and so on.

You need 100 percent consistency on those phones, from open to close.

I will give you another example. We have a Honda Dealership client in New Jersey that went from 60 units online to more than 200. How did they do this? Well, they had a team of 12 professionally trained appointment setters who made 120 calls per day five days per week for a total of more than 30,000 phone calls in one month. That’s what it takes to sell 200 units online. More than 15,000 phone calls to sell 100 units online. More than 7,500 phone calls to sell 50 units online.

Math is math.

The push back I get from dealers is that they don’t trust “BDC Reps,” “appointment setters,” etc. The reason why most are not successful is that they have the wrong people in those positions and most don’t have the proper training.

At minimum, an automotive Internet sales / phone sales professional — A.K.A. “Phone Ninja” — should be trained in areas including:

  • Inbound / outbound phone process
  • How to qualify a prospect and Identify wants, wishes and expectations.
  • Objections / rebuttals
  • The power of leaving a great voice mail
  • Outbound / inbound e-mail protocol
  • How to execute the dealership’s value package proposition
  • Science of communication — tone, inflection, etc.
  • Automotive Internet sales knowledge
  • Product knowledge

These people are truly phone sales professionals. The only difference between them and your showwroom sales professional is that they do not sell the vehicle; they sell the appointment. They should, however, be no less intelligent, skilled and trained.

If you have any questions about this article please feel free to call or e-mail me.

Sean V. Bradley is the founder and CEO of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized training and consulting company in the automotive industry. He can be contacted at 866.648.7400
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http://www.dealersynergy.com http://www.internetsales20group.com "The Next Online Evolution: Video Search" Was FIRST Published in Digital Dealer Magazine in 2007 Did you ever wish you had a hot tip, or like the television show, Early Edition, get tomorrow’s newspaper today and then go out and buy a winning lottery ticket? Even better, what if you could call yourself back in 1985 and tell yourself to buy all the Apple computer stock you could handle. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Sorry, but I can’t help you with those items, but I can share with you that I strongly believe video search is a sleeping giant of an opportunity that is growing and poised to explode at quantum speeds and virtually no one in the auto industry is taking advantage of the opportunity. Everyone knows about search engines and they are used all the time, but I was surprised at the sheer magnitude of their influence. • 88 percent of adults conduct online research prior to completing their purchase. • 67 percent of adults in the United States use search engines as a research tool. • 54 percent of search engine users find web sites to purchase their desired product. • 62 percent of search engine users click a result within the first page. The latest multi-media/video trend is video Internet marketing or Internet 2.0. Video search is the foundation for the next Internet evolution. The new web is evolving to become a very different animal than it is today. It’s truly becoming a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people driven by their individual preferences and desires. Just a few months ago, eMarketer, an online marketing news channel, said more people than ever are watching more online video more frequently. eMarketer estimates that over one-third of the US population will view video on the Internet on average during 2006. By 2010, the US Internet video audience will have grown 45.8 percent to 157 million, up from 107.7 million this year. When Google spent $1.65 billion for 19-month-old online video phenomenon You Tube, it was portrayed as a sign of the triumph of online video. They didn’t buy it just because it was a cool site; they bought it for the audience it reaches. Research shows the current video-viewing audience is predominantly male and most are heading toward middle age rather than their first job. This means that site visitors are in their prime spending age and advertisers need to know they can reach this audience in this new medium. This model is evolving as we speak and will become the way advertisers reach buyers in the future. Companies that succeed in this new medium within the channel will be those that are in the right position to leverage the video viewing community to get their messages across. Just like a traditional web site, video enhanced sites have existing content and keywords married to special events videos, and the various search engines that consumers use each day pick these up. Cyrus Krohn of MSN Video says, “Television has got a lot on the Internet as far as history goes, but the evolution of products I’m envisioning will service both parties,” he said. “I don't know how long it’s going to take, but you’re really going to have a hard time distinguishing between the monitor and the box.” Growth in this area will continue to explode and opportunities for automotive advertising, marketing and branding will be abundant on these video channels. Most people I talk to under 50 are well aware of YouTube.com, MySpace.com, Google Videos and others, and the e-mail I used to get with jokes are now replaced by e-mails with links to online videos. Here are a few more eye opening stats. • For all the clips playing, online video advertising currently comprises just 2.6 percent ($410 million) of total Internet advertising spending ($16.4 billion) • The average video seeker is far more likely to be heading toward middle age rather than heading for his first job. This means that users are in their prime spending age and advertisers need to know how to reach out to them in this new medium. • Time magazine unveiled its “Person of the Year” for 2006 on December 16, 2006, as – you, the creators and consumers of user-generated Internet content like video-file sharing sites YouTube, and the social network site MySpace.com. Over the next few years, companies will expand their presence utilizing online videos and keywords they could never have even imagined using today. Television commercials are expensive, but you can put “commercials” and other branding videos online for free. Do you utilize videos on your web site? You can easily tweak them and post them on YouTube and other sites now for free. Film your sales manager giving a brief overview of a new vehicle model and post it on the web. How about posting a short video of your service manager talking about the importance of tire rotation on your new SUV? Can you see a brief clip or series from your business manager explaining the value of an extended service contract? I can also see him or her talking about loyalty programs, GAP coverage and other important aftermarket products. Currently you probably have just a bulletin board in the showroom with testimonial letters from happy customers. Why not film customer testimonials and make your customers “stars on the web?” Are you starting to see the possibilities? You don’t always need a professional film crew to do the videos, but it will help. Try it out with your home video camera, experiment a bit and post a few to see the results and ask for feedback from friends, associates and family. Maybe you have a college nearby with a film program. Invite some of the students to get some experience by videotaping your team for online videos. Some may jump at the chance. You will quickly learn how to make it happen. Let that Steven Spielberg part of you come out, and start working on your next big blockbuster.
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http://www.dealersynergy.com http://www.internetsales20group.com First Published in Digital Dealer Magazine March 2007 Hello, Can you Hear Me Now? The phone is one of the most misused opportunities in a dealership.” I was actually told that about a decade ago when I went through my first phone sales training class. The truth is that it still applies today. Sometimes it takes forever for someone to even answer the phone and from there it gets bounced from the receptionist to the salesperson and finally to a manager. In most cases like that, the prospect abandons the call out of exasperation. To make matters even worst, when a salesperson or Internet/BDC rep gets a potential customer on the phone, he never even gives his name, asks the prospect for his name or builds value in himself and the dealership. Let me give you a great example. I was recently working with a franchised dealer in Kentucky for a week of training on business development and reviewing the dealership’s phone process through role playing. I was stunned when we engaged our role-play because the manager of the department was ignoring my questions, being vague and personifying the stigma of an old school car salesperson. I corrected her and started to teach her the proper methods and she further surprised me by explaining that she felt that what she was doing was wrong, but was trained to do so. She went on to tell me that the previous training company had told them to follow the scripts and ignore the prospects. She also said that the trainer actually sat in class and said no matter what the customer asks, ignore him and keep going on with your script. Knowing that trainers are teaching this is very disturbing to me. I want to clear up some things and give you all some very powerful information about phone sales and statistics based on our research and experiences in the field: • More than 80 percent of the time Internet or sales consultants don’t ask for the name and number of the caller • Seventy-eight percent of the time they do not attempt to make an appointment with the prospect • More than 70 percent of the time the sales consultant didn’t qualify the prospect properly. Some might have asked questions about the vehicle, but very rarely asked the prospect about wants, wishes and expectations other than the vehicle • More than 85 percent of the time the Internet or sales consultants did not properly identify themselves or ask the customers to write down whom they should ask for when they get into the dealership • More than 70 percent of phone ups are not logged into an ILM or CRM properly or even logged in at all, which means they are never followed up on The bottom line is there are steps to a sale – any sale. You need an opportunity to do business. You need to get someone to like you, trust you and believe you. If that occurs, they will buy from you (or at the very least come in for an appointment). If you want to be successful at selling cars you need to master your phone skills. And if you want to maximize your Internet department, special finance department or business development center, then you absolutely need to not only get control over your phones, you need to master them. You need to remember several things: • There is a science of communication…55 percent of communication is visual perception and body language. Thirty-eight percent of communication is auditory stimulation and inflection of tone. Finally, only 7 percent of communication is conveyed through text…the words we use. • That means you need to have a solid plan of how you are going to engage your prospect. You need to have an escalation protocol; meaning if there is only 45 percent (meaning 38 percent inflection of tone and 7 percent in words that we use) of communication on the phone, your main focus is to escalate that relationship as fast as possible to the next stage…the appointment. So, you should not be focused on selling the vehicle over the phone. You should focus on selling the appointment. The vehicle “selling” should be done in your environment, when you can conduct a full product presentation and the demo drive. You need to get in front of the prospect to start building rapport. • You should have a solid incoming phone call process. Following is an example. Incoming call script Dealership rep: “Thank you for calling ABC Motors, Sean speaking… are you calling about our sale?” *You want to properly greet the prospect on the phone and set the stage. Remember, you only have one chance to make a first impression. Right from the onset you are setting the tone for the call. By asking the question, “Are you calling about the sale?” you are finding out why the prospect is calling or from where they are calling. Prospect: “No, I am not…is there a sale going on?” Dealership rep: “Absolutely! We have several sales going on. (Make sure you have a list of current sales or promotions handy.) Are you looking for a new vehicle or a pre-owned vehicle?” *This is an opportunity to create some excitement…sales is about transference of energy. If you aren’t excited, why should your prospect be? Prospect: “A used car probably.” Dealership rep: “Great, which one of our sales were you calling in on?” * Now is the time you are going to find out exactly from where they are calling. This is the time where you find out where your ad dollars were successful. Prospect: “I saw your ad in the Auto Shopper magazine on that pre-owned ‘05 Suzuki Grand Vitara.” Dealership rep: “That vehicle is definitely available… your name is…? And how do spell your last name?” * This is very important; you need to ask his name. Some people might go for the phone number too, but a lot of people on the phone are skeptical about giving the phone number out so quickly. I think it’s best not to go for it this early in the game. Getting a name is a great start. Now you can use the prospect’s name in the conversation and make the experience more personal. Prospect: “Dave A-D-A-M-S” Dealership rep: “Dave, just so I know… besides availability, what else is important to you in purchasing your next vehicle?” * This is so important. You are going to qualify your prospect here. Most sales are not made because the salesperson was on the wrong car and the prospect’s “wants, needs or expectations” weren’t met. A salesperson’s ultimate goal should be to exceed a customer’s expectation, but the fact is you can never exceed a customer’s expectations if you first can’t identify their wants wishes and expectations. Let the prospect tell you what it is going to take to earn his business. Let him give you all the details to assist you in closing the sale later. Remember what Dr. Stephen Covey says… “Seek first to understand before being understood.” Prospect: “I was looking for the best price.” * It doesn’t matter what they say, meet their expectations. Make sure they know you are there to help them. Then transition to your value package proposition (meaning sell, sell, sell your dealership). Show them why they should do business with you. Dealership rep: “Dave, how about this… If I wasn’t able to get you the best price… I would never expect you to purchase a vehicle from me, OK?” Prospect: “OK.” Dealership rep: “Dave, with that said… can I tell you what else we do here to go above and beyond for our customers?” * This is again an opportunity for you to create excitement. This is the part where you can exceed their expectations. If they were “expecting” anything else, they would have mentioned it previously. By this time we have properly qualified our prospect, created rapport, and met their expectations. Now we can go for our “value package.” Prospect: “Absolutely!” Dealership rep: “Here at ABC Motors we have created a special value program that includes: • Free delivery to your home or office • Rewards / loyalty program • Tires for life • Free oil changes • Price guarantee / price protection • Loaner cars • Entry into our drawing (for just coming in for an appointment)” * You can use anything here… whatever your dealership does as its “differentiator.” Dealership rep: “How does that sound, Dave?” * This is your trial close. Prospect: “Wow… are you serious?” Dealership rep: “Absolutely. When is the best time today for you to come in – afternoon or evening?” *That is the close. Set the appointment on the quarter hour. Say something like, “Which is better, 3:15 or 4:15pm?” Appointments set on the quarter hour have a better show ratio. Sales representative should close with asking for the prospect’s cell phone number and e-mail address, explaining that if something changes they can get in touch with the prospect and they will send an e-mail confirmation with directions for the appointment. It is important to obtain this for follow-up with the prospect. I hope you all realize how powerful the phones are… master your craft. Sean V. Bradley
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Babe Ruth was known for hitting the most home runs, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that he also had the most strikeouts. Think about that for a moment…

My point is that you need to be at bat to crack those home runs out of the park. For many years I was at the frontline of Internet Departments. I have successfully built multiple Internet sales departments from the ground up from nothing to selling over 100+ units solely from the Internet. When I started, I tried creating and managing the Internet department every possible way imaginable. I had struck out several times before I developed that “Power” swing. I put a solid strategy together and I was cracking home runs right out of the park.

Soon after I started I realized that I needed a strategy and a focus. I needed to set some goals for my department, my company and myself. I worked with others and developed a four-point strategy we called D.I.M.E.. The four elements of D.I.M.E. are Design, Implement, Manage, and Evolve.

Design

This is where you create a vision of where you want your business to be in the future. List your goals and desired outcomes. Be specific about how your business will be affected. Don’t talk in generalities but in specifics-percentage increased or decreased, net gain or loss, numbers for retention, etc.

Implement

Work your vision through implementation. Establish a timeline for task completion. Be sure everyone understands their accountability especially outside vendors and inside managers.

Manage

Management is about measurement. Be sure to measure your progress against the standards you set during the design phase. You want to be sure that everything is moving forward and that you are achieving the desired results.

Evolve

Evolution takes leadership. Throughout the design, implementation and management of your plan others will be looking to you for guidance. In order to evolve, others must understand where your business is headed and follow the vision you have laid before them.

D.I.M.E. is the method we use at Dealer Synergy for everything we do from buying computers to hiring new employees. Having a strategy and repeatable method of execution allows us to get better at what we do every time we do it.

Having a methodology is important but your also need to know where your key areas for success are. Most businesses share four common elements of focus. I call them “The Four “P’s”. The first is products, the second people, then process and finally promotions.

Next month we will take a look at how the Four P’s apply to selling cars online…

Sean V. Bradley

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For Real Results, Don’t Forget Your CRM!



There is endless chatter about social media in the dealer marketing world these days and why wouldn’t there be? Over 500 million people are using one of the “Big 4”—Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Linked-In. In addition, of the two-thirds of Americans who now visit social networking sites, 43 percent visit them more than once a day. Significantly for the retail industry, and automotive dealers in particular, 68 percent have become a fan or friend of a product, service, company, or group on a social networking site. Without a doubt, dealers need to harness the power of social media. Most of the social media chatter and discussion, however, currently revolves around dealership Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, while almost none of it focuses on one of the most powerful tools in a dealership’s arsenal…the CRM/ILM system.



Yes, tapping social networking can be a little overwhelming and tricky, but if you utilize your CRM and ILM systems, along with some key best practices, you can eliminate much of the confusion and create a straightforward strategy. For example, knowing whether or not a customer belongs to a social site is helpful (and you can do that directly through your CRM/ILM system, with the right plug-ins); but seeing how many friends or contacts that customer has on each site gives you a powerful advantage. Based on the user privacy settings, you can actually go directly from the CRM tool to a customer’s social media page to gain even more information about that customer.



Imagine the selling opportunity with a customer that has over 200 contacts on Facebook alone. If this “influencer” has a good experience at your dealership, then recommends your dealership to his/her friends via a post on the wall, and those 200 contacts have their own friends, the customer’s experience becomes viral across all of those contacts. Your marketing efforts can grow exponentially by targeting just one prospect and then spreading the positive message by word of mouth or, in this case, “text of mouth”! And this is just one opportunity you can leverage combining the right CRM system and plug-ins, as well as the following simple best practices:



1. Enhance your CRM data to include social media information for each of your customers and prospects.



2. Use the enhanced data to create outbound CRM/ILM-based campaigns that target social network influencers in your database.



3. Target your social media campaigns. Don’t just email the same content asking everyone to be your friend, make the request relevant to the recipient.



4. Train your store to review the social media data (recent posts, friends, etc.), in addition to the customer’s history of interactions with your store, before they interact with the customer.



5. Measure, measure, measure!



Bottom line: just as you should never forget your CRM and ILM systems when planning your email and direct mail campaigns, be sure to include these critical systems as you map out your social media plan…it is a lot easier than you think, just try it!



Mike Martinez is chief marketing officer at izmocars.com. For more information about izmocars and iCRM social media plug-ins, go to www.izmocars.com/solutions/icrm.html.
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